Oahu is nicknamed “The Gathering Place” because of it’s diversity in culture. This is an island with many different cultural communities that embrace and respect each other. This island has a lot of Aloha. There is a lot more to Oahu then the well known city of Honolulu. The landscape and activities are just as diverse as the people.
Oahu is the most populated island with 905,266 (about 75% of Hawaii’s residents) and the 3rd largest of the Hawaiian islands. There isn’t a place you can’t drive to and back in a day. There is of course a lot more traffic on Oahu then the other islands and rush hour unfortunately exists in the city, so you’ll need to take that into consideration.
Getting to know Oahu a little before you land will give you a head start on your vacation. Like all the islands, the different coastlines have their own conditions. The average temperature is 71-80 degrees and rainfall amounts depend on elevation and the side of the island you are on.
The south shore of Oahu is known as the “guarded shore” and is the best place to improve your aquatic skills. This is where Waikiki is located and where most tourists stay. There are many fun activities to do on the south shore. Swimming, snorkeling, sand castle building, tanning ,surfing, kayaking and more. The south shore delivers that “postcard-perfect” Hawaiian vacation.
The island of Oahu is formed from the remnants of two large shield volcanoes, the older Waianae Volcano on Oahu’s west side, and the younger Koolau Volcano on Oahu’s east side. The famous north shore of Oahu is stunning. During the summer months swimming and snorkeling conditions are excellent but the winter months should be left to the surfers and water experts. The waves get as big as 25 feet with strong rip currents. The winter months are also more rainy on the north shore. The winter months provide a great show if you like to watch surfers. Pipeline, one of the most famous waves in the world, is located on the north shore. Haleiwa is the most popular town on the north shore. There are 5 famous beaches within 8 miles of Haleiwa (Sunset Beach, Bonsai Pipeline, Alii Beach Park, Waimea Bay and Chun’s Reef) and all are well worth a visit. It takes about 2 hours to get to the north shore from Honolulu, depending on traffic.
The west shore of Oahu is best known for it’s great offshore fishing. This is the leeward side is the dry side of the island and the waves get huge in the winter months. Kapolei is the best known town on the west shore. The Ko Olina, a world class resort and golf course, can be found on this side. Waters can be tricky on this side but there is year round safe swimming in Pokai Bay Beach Park. There is also a great living museum with replica buildings from 1840-1903 that have been restored at the Hawaiian Plantation Village. There are several great beaches to explore on this side like Ka’ena State Park and Makaha Beach. The towns of Makaha, Maili and Nanakuli are found on the west shore of Oahu.
The east side of Oahu is the windward side. The north part and south part of the windward side are very different. The north part has the amazing Polynesian Cultural Center. There are sweet and sleepy villages and a lot of secluded beaches. The south part of the windward side is home to one of Hawaii’s largest Marine Corps bases as well as the famous Kailua Beach. Kailua and Kaneohe are the main towns of this part of the island.
Central Oahu is primarily subdivisions and pineapple farms and not the most popular tourist venue. There is so much to do on Oahu that you won’t be missing much if you don’t make it to the central part of the island.
Oahu is by far the most visited of the Hawaiian islands and many people believe it is the most beautiful.
- Aloha Tower
- Honolulu Zoo
- Oahu Beaches
- Oceanarium Restaurant
- Polynesian Cultural Center
- Waikiki Aquarium
- Waikiki Beach
- Waikiki International Marketplace
Oahu General Information